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39 of 40 people found the following review helpful
on April 2, 2005
Of all of the gems I've stumbled across on the internet, one of my favorites has to be Catherine Newman's "Ben and Birdy" column. I always have to smile when I realize that it's the beginning of a new week and there will be a new chapter posted. Usually I end up reading most, if not all, of it aloud to my husband, albeit in bits and pieces. Some of it I share because it is simply hysterical, some because it captures the essence of what I feel with my own 2 and 6 year olds, and some because it can nearly make me cry. Basically, she sums up the roller coaster of motherhood in a few perfect paragraphs, and this book is a continuation of that. As far as I am concerned, it is a must-read for all mothers -- a definite addition to the baby shower gift. I doubt that anyone can read it and not feel touched, and grateful, for having done so. Unlike so many other books that you find yourself reading when you're pregnant or a new mother, this one doesn't make you more worried, more unsure of yourself, or more depressed. There's no overwhelming amount of dire possibilities that you've never considered, no second guessing all of your parental decisions, no nail-biting. This is like sitting down with the best of friends and having a good long laugh, or cry, or "aha" moment that boosts your mood and makes you feel less alone. The anecdotes are so refreshingly real -- it's a relief to find out that there's someone else out there just like you -- you're not the only one who misunderstood, or worried all night, or said crazy things to your husband. And it's clear that she is such a good mother and that her children are lucky to have her, and it's easier to believe that you are too -- for all your flaws, things really are ok. This is a totally unflinching, unselfconscious look at motherhood, and it's beautiful. Buy the book. You won't regret it.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
This book would be at the top of my list for any parent or parent-to-be. It is simply that good and original, with a special, unique voice. And I say that after picking it up half-heartedly, thinking, "Oh, no..not ANOTHER parenting memoir" I thought I'd read just about every variation of that sort of book that was out there. In fact, for a time it was an obsession of mine.

So I was pleasantly surprised to find that I couldn't stop reading this one, as the author was totally honest about both the trials and the joys of parenting, revealing the hardships as well as the rewards - in detail, yet with such quirky humor that I was laughing out loud for a good share of the time.

What makes this book special is the way she describes her daily life and the personality of her young son, Ben, in a way that makes clear how exasperatingly difficult her job can be one moment, how sweet the next. She is clearly not the "perfect mother" (is anyone?) and her courage in revealing her doubts, fears and foibles is oddly comforting to read.

This is a book for those of us who want to be good parents but need communion with those who are like us - aspiring to be better at our job, but having moments that are all too human as well, when we don't live up to our hopes, our expectations. It is this author's particular gift that she is able to own up to these moments without excuses or defensiveness, shedding new light on the complexities of parenthood, admitting that she was surprised by the radical changes in her life, even discombobulated by them at times. And yet she also comes across as a devoted and loving mother, fiercely passionate about her children. I absolutely loved this book!
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on April 4, 2005
Catherine Newman, famous for her marvelous work as a columnist on BabyCenter.com, extends that column into a book that every parent should read. This is no sugar-coated, rosy-eyeglassed view of parenting; it is absolutely real. The love, the frustration, the worry (oh, the worry!) ... it's all there. Posts to Catherine's BabyCenter column all say essentially this: "Catherine, thank you so much for writing about my life! I know that I am 'normal' thanks to you! Have you been peeking in my windows?" This book is an extenuation of that column. Buy it -- read it -- but be sure to set aside some tissues, a good chunk of time, and find a place where you can laugh out loud. This is simply the best parenting book (and column) I've ever read (and I've read MORE than my share!)
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on October 1, 2007
I was inspired to add to the many five star reviews when I read one that said, "This book won't make you a better parent, but it might help you to relax about being the parent you are." While I am sure this was intended to be a positive comment, I have to respectful disagree.

Reading Catherine's book and columns for years HAS made me a better parent. Specifically, she has a way of describing slowing down and paying attention to kids that really affected me. If my son wants to play Candyland, but by his own set of made up rules, why not? If he, well after the age that "the experts" think he should be independent, wants me to lay down with him for a few minutes while he falls asleep, I soak it up, because I know that the days that he will ask for me to cuddle are so limited.

Like Catherine, I do not advocate spoiling children, but I think that we need to pick our battles, say yes as much as possible, and ask ourselves if we are saying no for a good reason or just because OUR parents did not let us build forts with the living room couch cushions. Why not let them make the fort (better yet make it with them) and then teach them to clean up after themselves?

I love her book and her columns. She has made me a better, more patient, more creative, and more thoughtful parent.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on April 6, 2005
Set aside the boring, earnest, and "useful" books on your parenting bookshelf, and pick up Waiting for Birdy. Catherine Newman is an incredibly gifted writer and parent. She captures exactly why parenting is so wonderful AND so hard. Reading her book (and her columns on babycenter) makes you feel like she was spying on your life -- that moment at preschool ("Are we really the parents?"), the endless "Whys" of your 2-year-old. I liked this book so much more than Operating Instructions.

For those of us who parent outside the "mainstream", Waiting for Birdy is a subtle endorsement of those ideas. Catherine co-sleeps with her children, nurses into toddler-hood, practices gentle discipline, and admits her own shortcomings. This is a great book to give to someone who has been questioning your parenting choices (Catherine makes all of this seem so normal), or to try to influence new parents to do something different.

I hope this becomes a best-seller!!!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on April 4, 2005
Oh my God, this book is good. It's not really an instruction guide to pregnancy, as some of the press has touted it - it's more of Catherine Newman's story of being a mother to son Ben and having her second child, nicknamed Birdy. Mostly, it will make you laugh - laugh out loud, tears streaming down your face laughter nearly every other page. But sometimes - say, once a chapter, it will catch you completely off guard and have you instantly weeping bittersweet tears. If I could, I would send this to every mother I know.

Truly, this will be one of your favorite books ever - of any genre.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on April 7, 2005
I've been a regular reader of the Babycenter.com column, who often thinks "aha it's Monday" and eagerly turns on the computer to read the latest installment of Catherine's journal. Having the book in hand was great, especially on my commuter train rides. A large percentage of the book was familiar but some of the material was new. I am currently pregnant with my second child, and was particularily enthralled with the parts of the book that helped me remember what a newborn is like to have around the house. I will buy this book to give to friends!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on April 4, 2005
Finally! The best book about parenting since Anne Lamott's "Operating Instructions," in terms of being startled into laughter and lulled into pensive quiet.

I've enjoyed Catherine's parentcenter.com postings for as long as she's been writing them, and I don't think I've ever disagreed with her on anything. (Except for maybe giving up coffee!)

My sister is pregnant, and I could hardly wait for this book to come out, so I could buy it for her.

Thank you, Cath.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on April 19, 2005
I guess it may just be coincidental that our kids are the same ages exactly and I had a traumatic emergency c-section followed by a less traumatic repeat one. Or that I cook organic vegetables. Or that our elder sons are ridiculously sensitive and philosophical. Or that we have similar ideas about just about everything. So my review may apply just to me. But I LOVED THIS BOOK.

Her honesty is amazing. Her writing is spectacular. This book is so funny and encouraging and makes me feel both more committed to conscious, gentle parenting and more forgiving to myself for falling WAY short.

I would really recommend it to anyone considering having a baby. Because its the only book I've ever read that tells you *exactly* what it might be like to have one. Exactly what your days consist of and what the, um, joys and miseries might really be. I will give it to everyone as gifts.

Thank you, Catherine, for sharing your gift for words and your gifts of amazing, unique, beautiful children with us.

Astoria
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on March 29, 2005
Catherine Newman's big heart, sharp wit, and breathtakingly good writing take what could have been a standard "momoir" and elevate it to -- dare I say it? -- literature. A wonderful read for every mother who's ever secretly wondered what the heck she got herself into. Be prepared to laugh, often, and keep the Kleenex handy.
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